Cricket: Ton-up Eskinazi steers Middlesex to success

Stevie Eskinazi of Middlesex (pic: Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Stevie Eskinazi of Middlesex (pic: Nick Wood/TGS Photo) - Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo

Stevie Eskinazi’s first century in one-day cricket saw Middlesex to a comfortable six-wicket win over Gloucestershire in the Royal London Cup at Lord’s.

Nick Gubbins of Middlesex in batting action (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Nick Gubbins of Middlesex in batting action (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo) - Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo

In the week he qualified through residency for England, the right-hander dropped a hint to the selectors with a mature 107 not out.

He and England Lion Nick Gubbins shared an unbroken stand of 184 for the fifth wicket, a competition record for the Seaxes, eclipsing that of Eoin Morgan and Neil Dexter against Surrey five years ago.

Gubbins was left two runs short of an unbeaten century after striking the winning boundary.

Given Middlesex’s success batting first in their opening day win over Essex, Dawid Malan’s decision to bowl under a cloudless sky looked a curious one.

Nick Gubbins of Middlesex in batting action (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Nick Gubbins of Middlesex in batting action (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo) - Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo

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There was early vindication, though, when Tim Murtagh brought one back off the seam to trap George Hankins LBW with just 11 on the board and it might have been worse for the visitors had Malan not spilt opposite number Chris Dent just one run later.

The Gloucester skipper looked set to cash in on the reprieve, moving smoothly to 47 and sharing a 65-run stand with wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick, only to throw his wicket away, top edging a pull shot off Toby Roland-Jones (2-59) into the hands of Tom Helm at long leg.

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Roderick (38) too failed to make the most of a good start when cutting one too close to him, John Simpson taking the catch behind the stumps.

Bracey (83) and Howell though settled down to dominate the middle overs, the former endangering occupants of the Mound and Tavern stands where he deposited four sixes. Howell meanwhile proved the perfect foil, keeping the scoreboard ticking as the pair shared a century stand at a little over a run a ball.

At 212-4 with a little under 15 overs left, the men from the west Country looked set for a mammoth score, but Bracey faltered in sight of his century, smearing the excellent Murtagh to George Scott at deep cover.

Howell (55) continued on to his own half-century with just two fours and added a third soon afterwards, but like others before him he then departed caught down the leg-side off a wayward delivery from Roland-Jones.

Thereafter the innings lost its way, leaving Gloucestershire short of the 300-plus their start had suggested on 283-7.

Middlesex began strongly, with two towering sixes from Paul Stirling helping them to 28-0 off three overs.

However, the Ireland international’s dismissal to a lazy swish at a wide one from Matt Taylor sparked a slump.

Simpson was caught and bowled by Worrall without troubling the scorers and when the in-form Malan drove the same bowler to short cover the hosts were 36-3.

England captain Morgan briefly led a counter-offensive, including a towering six into the pavilion members, but when he was caught behind at 103-4 the visitors were well in charge.

The robust cameo had though put Middlesex ahead of the asking rate, meaning Eskinazi and Gubbins could rebuild patiently.

The 50-stand came in 41 balls with Eskinazi first to 50 from 48, before the left-hander achieved the landmark from one ball fewer.

The 100 partnership came from 86 balls by which time the momentum had swung the way of the Londoners.

Growing in confidence, Eskinazi eased to a century as the win came with 7.4 overs to spare.

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